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GOP Bill Clears Committee; North Korean Missile Test; Police Arrest Suspect in Tampa; NBC Fires Matt Lauer. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:32:58] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a big day for the president. In just a few hours, he heads for Missouri. He is going to be talking about his tax plan there. The president thinks he has momentum after Republicans cleared a big hurdle in the Senate and a floor vote on the tax bill could happen as soon as this week.

Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill with the latest.



It is every expectation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will go ahead and move a motion to move this to the floor, the full floor, perhaps as early as today. This after a flurry of activity, and, of course, President Trump hear on Capitol Hill meeting with Senate Republicans yesterday, extraordinary events in which he cajoled, as well as charmed and made promises to several of the naysayers of this tax plan. And the real challenge here is to change those promises into real legislative language and perhaps action.

Well, who are the folks who have concerns? It's the same cast of characters that we've been talking about for the last week or so.

Let's start off with senators -- this is Ron Johnson and Steve Daines, both of them talking about those business entities, small businesses. They want better breaks for them. The pass-through rate to be increased so they get a better tax rate. That is something that was discussed.

Senator Susan Collins, she was told that the local and state tax deductions would be back in play, that you would have a property tax deduction that would be capped at $10,000, something that she was concerned about.

The other thing that she was also concerned about, shared with other senators, is the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate. Well, she was told by the president that there were possibly legislation that would help with the subsidies, as well as shoring up the marketplace for Obamacare. That was something that was very important to her.

And then you have the deficit hawks. You have those like Senator Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, who are looking at the cost of this thing, $1.5 trillion, saying, look, you know, this cannot add to the federal deficit. There is a trigger potentially that's in place. But, hey, if you don't see the kind of economic growth you're expecting, then those tax breaks would actually disappear and be reversed.

[09:35:03] And, of course, we've got Senator Marco Rubio talking about the child tax credit. He wants it fully refundable.

And the wildcard, among many, is Senator John McCain. Not quite sure whether or not he'll sign off on this. It all depends on if there's -- how this process goes and if there's any kind of bipartisanship, which is something that he's looking at, John.

BERMAN: All right, Suzanne Malveaux for us on Capitol Hill.

Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

Senator, thanks so much for being with us.

It looks like Republicans cleared a major hurdle yesterday. They got this through committee. It seemed like some of those Republican senators who have been wavering have moved towards a "yes" vote on the tax plan. Do you assume at this point that this bill will pass the Senate?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: No, because I think that there are three or four Republican senators in play. And I think one of those is Susan Collins.

BERMAN: I want to talk about Susan Collins right now because let me just read you the headline in "The Tampa Bay Times" this morning. It says Bill Nelson could inadvertently help Republicans pass the tax bill. And the reason they're writing that is because Susan Collins is citing some legislation that you have written with her about re- insurance, funding some high-risk pools. And she says because she thinks she will get a vote on that, she might be able to vote for the overall tax plan.

NELSON: Susan and I have been working the way you're supposed to, in a bipartisan manner, to strengthen the current law, the Affordable Care Act. And that is one of them that she says she wants a promise that, in fact, it will get passed. That's a good thing. But if she is trading that off for accepting the so-called individual mandate, which in essence is encouraging people or they pay a penalty to buy insurance in the pool, if she trades that off, that's not an even trade.

Why? Because if you don't have young and healthy people, an incentive to go in and buy the insurance, the people that are insured then are older and they're sicker. And, as a result, premiums go way up.

So this is the argument that I am making to Susan, a former insurance commissioner in Maine.


NELSON: Me, a former elected insurance commissioner in Florida. That if you drive that pool down, shrinking to the point at which it is older and sicker, the premiums of necessity go through the roof. And that can't be offset by all these other good things that Susan and I are doing in our bipartisan legislation.

BERMAN: You're making that argument to her. All I'm saying is she now says she is optimistic -- more optimistic she will be able to vote for the overall plan because of this bill you were working on with her. Also the Alexander-Murray bill, which she says might get a vote as well.

I want to ask you about the meeting that did not take place yesterday. The minority leader, Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi skipped a meeting with the president because he mean tweeted them essentially. Do you think that was the right call not showing up?

NELSON: Well, look, didn't you learn years ago that the way to have friends and influence people is to be kind, respectful, reach out to them, don't be a know it all? Isn't that the way to engender people to come together in a bipartisan consensus?

BERMAN: I learned that --

NELSON: That certainly wasn't --

BERMAN: Absolutely. I also --

NELSON: That wasn't the atmosphere set by the White House.

BERMAN: I -- look, I absolutely learned that. I hope we all did. But I also learned, you know, two wrongs don't make a right. I'm not sure both -- or which one applies here?

NELSON: Well, at the end of the day, between now and Christmas, the minority leader in both the Senate and the House have to be brought in because big things have to happen, namely a funding bill. You can't get that through on a 50/50 vote. You've got to have 60 votes to advance it.

So if I were the White House, I'd be calculating beyond the immediate and looking at the big picture of how you do the best to keep the government functioning in the most efficient way.

BERMAN: Do you encourage your leader, Chuck Schumer, to cut a deal with the president on this?

NELSON: Eventually it will have to be to keep the government open.

BERMAN: All right, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, great to have you with us. Thank you for your time.

NELSON: Thanks so much.

[09:39:53] BERMAN: All right, this morning, North Korea has a new message for President Trump as it fires a new missile, the highest, longest launch it has ever had. And this time North Korea says it can reach Washington and all the United States, and experts agree. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, new this morning, North Korea is calling its highest, longest missile launch ever a gift package for what they call old lunatic Trump. For his part, the president spoke today with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping about what appears to be a new addition to the North Korean arsenal. It files (ph) ten times higher than the International Space Station and it splashed down almost an hour later just west of Japan. Now experts agree that it travelled plenty far to hit anywhere in the United States, including Washington, including New York.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live from Seoul.

Will, first, give us the latest this morning?


Well, President Trump just tweeted, John, a few minutes ago saying, quote, just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. The situation will be handled. So perhaps that's what President Trump meant when he said that they're going to handle the North Korean nuclear program by slapping additional sanctions on what is already perhaps the most heavily sanctioned economy on earth, and a country that has made advancements to its nuclear program that have surprised analyst all over the world, including here in Seoul, South Korea, where the unification minister said even before the missile launch that they expect North Korea to finalize its nuclear program next year. The U.S. has said perhaps by early next year, meaning weeks possibly from now, North Korea could have in its arsenal a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the mainland U.S.,

And we know that this one that they tested was their most powerful and most dangerous yet. It travelled to an altitude ten times the orbit of the International Space Station, 2,800 miles up. It came down just off the coast of Japan. A trajectory that did not trigger a military response from the U.S. An easterly trajectory, not the trajectory towards the U.S. territory of Guam that may have triggered a far -- a different response.

But, John, sanctions haven't worked so far and yet it seems as if the Trump administration feels that is their solution, sanctions plus diplomatic pressure, even as you heard Senator Lindsay Graham talk about the possibility of war if this sort of provocative behavior continues.

BERMAN: Look, it's interesting because U.S. policy, not just with President Trump but past presidents, has been to keep North Korea from developing a nuclear weapon. Well, it has one now. And to keep North Korea from developing a missile which can hit the United States, which apparently it has now. So the question for the U.S. and the west is, what do you do about it?

As far as the North Korean side, Will Ripley, what is next for them? RIPLEY: Well, I was in Pyongyang about a month ago. I interviewed a

senior diplomat who said that the world should take literally a threat first made by North Korea's foreign minister back in September, after President Trump's speech at the U.N. in New York when he threatened to totally destroy North Korea. North Korea in turn said they want to prove to the United States they have this nuclear capability, which could include not only a long-range missile launch, but also a nuclear test above ground. The first kind of atmospheric nuclear detonation that the world hasn't seen in nearly 40 years, since China did it back in 1980. If that were to happen, it would obviously be terrifying for many people around the world, not to mention the environmental consequences.

But the North Koreans have told me, even in a conversation just after this latest missile launch, they feel completely justified in taking whatever steps they deem necessary to develop their nuclear program because they point to the U.S. and Russia and China, all the other nuclear powers that have conducted these kind of tests. They say they're entitled to do it just the same.

BERMAN: All right, Will Ripley in Seoul for us. Thanks a lot, Will.

A killer terrorized a Tampa neighborhood for weeks. Now a suspect is in custody. We'll tell you how it all happened, next.


[09:52:19] BERMAN: All right, new this morning, Florida Governor Rick Scott meets with Tampa Police just hours after authorities there arrested a suspect in a string of killings. Police say they got very lucky. The 24-year-old suspect taken into custody after he allegedly brought a gun into a McDonald's. This is new video of him at the county jail just a short time ago.

The Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights has been on edge for weeks now. Four people there were shot and killed apparently at random while they were just walking for a bus -- waiting for a bus or crossing the street.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us now with the very latest.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we're talking 51 days of complete terror in this Tampa neighborhood. Four murders and more than 5,000 tips police received. But it came down to just that one, from a manager at the McDonald's where Howell Emanuel Donaldson worked. He asked her to hold that gun that he had brought in because he needed to go to a payday loan facility. The manager thought something was wrong, alerted police, and from that point on, they started to put together they thought they had found their suspect.

Now, this 24-year-old, John, was not on their radar, we're told. They were not looking for this individual. He's not someone that they knew of at that time. He's a former basketball player at St. John's University. In fact,

they said when he appeared up this -- when he appeared in the court this morning for an appearance, he did not admit to anything, we're told. And so right now the question we have, that many still have, including the mayor of Tampa is, why would a 24-year-old man shoot four people at random in a place where, at this point, they don't know of any real connection he has to.

BERMAN: So how did authorities link the suspect to the crimes, Dianna?

GALLAGHER: So, John, we're waiting on more information from police, but the mayor of Tampa told us this morning that it was a combination of ballistics, his cell phone pinging to that area at the time of the killings, and his clothing.

So we're still waiting for a little more information from police. We are expecting to hear from them within the next hour or so. But, according to the mayor, they were able to connect him pretty quickly, it sounds like, through several different ways.

BERMAN: All right, Dianne Gallagher, covering this story for us. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

[09:54:35] A big shock in network television. Mornings changed in a big way. The question is, how much will our society change now, this after Matt Lauer fired by NBC after a complaint of inappropriate sexual behavior. We have new developments, next.


BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

A seismic tremor in morning television with an impact that will reach way beyond television. "Today" show co-anchor Matt Lauer fired by NBC News. Just moments before the show went to air this morning, NBC announced it made the move for what the network calls inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. The remaining anchors seemed just as stunned as the rest of us.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, CO-ANCHOR, NBC'S "TODAY" SHOW: All we can say is that we are heartbroken. I'm heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend, and my partner, and he is beloved by many, many people here. And I'm heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell. And we are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks, how do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? And I don't know the answer to that.


[10:00:07] BERMAN: All right, CNN's chief media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter joins me now.

Brian, what do we know? What are the facts here?